Sharon Johnson-Shirley, Ed.D.


Lake Ridge New Tech Schools

Gary, Indiana

Dr. Shirley is superintendent of the Lake Ridge Schools, Calumet Township in Northwest Indiana.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington, IN, a master’s degree from Indiana University Northwest, an administrative license from Purdue University, Calumet Campus, and obtained her doctorate degree from Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Shirley has worked as a teacher, principal, director of curriculum, assistant superintendent and for eleven years has served as superintendent of the Lake Ridge New Tech Schools. Additionally, she serves as a member of the Board of Advisors, Executive Committee Member, and Chair-Elect for Indiana University Northwest. Dr. Shirley serves as a Board of Directors for Edgewater Behavioral Health Systems, Inc. She has served as a member of the Executive board of Indiana Public Schools’ Superintendents Executive Board as District 1 Chair as well as Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy since 1999 and as a member of the State Safety Academy’s Advisory Board.  In 1999 the Lake County Safe School Commission was formed, and Dr. Shirley has been a proud member since its inception. In 2013 Dr. Shirley was appointed by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz to the Indiana Department of Education Special Education Advisory Board. Dr. Shirley is a founding member of the Lake Ridge Schools’ Education Foundation.

Dr. Shirley was chosen by members of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents as the 2013 and 2014 District I Superintendent of the Year.  Also in 2013 and 2016 she was nominated to be a finalist In the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Ceremony. Lake Ridge Schools was slated for school take over eleven years ago through the auspices of Dr. Tony Bennett.  However, this was unacceptable for Dr. Shirley. Through strategic planning and thoughtful processing Dr. Shirley successfully lead the turn-around-team to a victory of academic success resulting in the school being taken off academic probation.  The success has been maintained to this date. With support from her leadership team, she has been able to transform her school district to a recognized district for “An Island of Academic Excellence” as stated by Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. She has been recognized by The Board of Education of the Lake Ridge Schools for her commitment to excellence. She has been granted many awards and certifications throughout her educational career.  Dr. Shirley was very instrumental in planning and sustaining two very important initiatives in her school district. The first initiative was the planning and creation of a “School Based Health Clinic” that not only services the school but services the local community as well. Secondly, she established the first New Tech High School in Northwest, Indiana that has led to the implementation of a New Tech Middle School that The New Tech Network uses as a national training site. To date, her district is noted for being a K-12 New Tech Schools.  Dr. Shirley is proud to have been able to open a new Athletics Facility that has brought a new sense of school pride and community involvement.

Dr. Shirley has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority since 1974.  She crossed over at Gamma Nu Chapter at Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana.  She has been an active member of the Gary alumnae Chapter Inc. and serves on the Social Action Committee. She has been a member Phi Delta Kappa, Professional Fraternity for over 30 years.  She served as a member of the Lakeshore Alliance for Student Success (LASS), a member of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS Executive Committee), is active in the Indiana Urban Schools Association, member of the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative, serves as a member of the Northwest  Indiana Public School Study Council, a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Northwest Indiana Education Service Center (NWIESC), an active member of the National Affiliate of National School Board Association, and Indiana School Boards Association and a member of NABSE National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Professional development has been a strong asset for Dr. Shirley to stay current and make good decisions about best practices in all areas.  She has professional training in many areas of education including an Administrator mentor training Program, Project Peace (Conflict Resolution Management), and Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and a wealth of other trainings. She is a supporter of the American Heart Association, United Way, and the March of Dimes.

Dr. Shirley is married to her wonderful husband, Carlos, and between them, they have three daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.   

She believes in the famous quote from Gandhi “Be the Change you wish to see in the world”.